A salad is simply a dish containing various mixed pieces of healthy food, usually with at least one fresh vegetable included. Though some may be served hot, they are commonly served cold, and most often are usually dressed. In today’s hectic world, salads can be easily prepared at home by adding any number of fresh vegetables to a dressing, or can be purchased in stores in the form of dried mixes or canned items. Salads can be made out of nearly anything that can be cooked and is flavored with a flavor of your choice, whether you go with ranch or blue cheese. You may be surprised at just how versatile the salad has become in today’s salad days.
One of the earliest salads were created centuries ago as a quick way to prepare food for a gathering. Back then, salads were simply a mixture of chopped fruit, mixed with water or wine, seasoned with pepper or spices, and broiled. Because of its simplicity, salad was a favorite for people during gathering parties. They were the favorite fare of royalty during the Medieval period and were served right outside the castle doors when people were allowed to leave and go outside to meet friends. The “salad” became associated with being light on the stomach and clean, which explain why we can still see some of these old recipes around today in antique shops and markets.
During the Middle Ages, salads developed into more complex dishes using various fruits and vegetables along with herbs and spices to give the salad a more tasty flavor. Adding cheese and other toppings such as meats and cheese brought an entirely new dimension to this already flavorful treat. While the traditional salad still had green leaves and stems as the main components, other types of lettuce and greens were added, such as Swiss chard and crisp greens such as collard greens. Dressing tended to vary according to where the salad was served, but historically they were more similar to today’s salad dressings consisting of olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and a touch of salt.